The rescue operations to save the remaining members of the soccer team who were trapped in a Thailand cave is still ongoing, but doctors are already considering the possibility that the boys have contracted the rare and dangerous infection known as histoplasmosis.
Histoplasomis, also known as spelunker's lung or simple cave disease, is just one of several illnesses that the 12 boys and their coach may have received while trapped deep in the subterranean caverns.
Thailand Cave Rescue
A soccer team of 12 boys and their coach were found trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand on July 3, more than a week since they went missing on June 23. Rescuers feared the worst in their search, but the boys and their coach were all found alive in a dry area above the water.
The boys, however, were not yet out of danger, as the operation to rescue them proved to be dangerous. Elon Musk also attempted to help out with the rescue through the creation of kid-sized submarine made out of a silver tube that was meant to be attached to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
As of the time of writing, eight boys have already been guided out of the flooded cave by rescuers. However, the danger is not yet over, even for those who are already out.
What Is Histoplasmosis?
After being trapped in the dark, wet cave for more than two weeks, the boys and their coach are at risk of having contracted histoplasmosis, which is acquired by breathing in spores from animal waste.
"These are spores that reside frequently in caves and are often found in the excretions of bats," according to California's Stanford University professor of emergency medicine Dr. Paul Auerbach.
Healthy people will only get a fever and cough if exposed to histoplasmosis. However, for those with weakened immune systems, they may start coughing up blood and possibly die if the infection is left untreated and allowed to spread throughout the body.
The boys will undergo testing, through urine, lung, other tissue, and blood samples plus X-rays and CT scans, to determine if they did indeed contracted histoplasmosis. If the boys are found to be infected with the disease, they will need to take antifungal medication for three months to one year.
In the meantime, the eight boys who have already emerged from the cave were sent to a hospital and quarantined. Cruelly, their parents are not allowed to hug or touch them, while they are tested for histoplasmosis.